Firewalking dates back to before recorded history, with some estimates placing its origins in Africa over 4,000 years ago. Dozens of cultures have practiced firewalking all over the world. It has served many different purposes among those cultures–to empower warriors before battle, to help people accomplish personal healing, to bring tribes together at times of celebration or mourning, and even to create dramatic performances.
Peggy Dylan is often called the mother or originator of the firewalking movement in North America. While she feels that title may be a touch exaggerated, she does take credit for bringing firewalking into the public eye. She founded the Sundoor School of Transpersonal Education in 1984 in California. Peggy tells her students that compared with the intensity of the other cultures’ firewalking ceremonies, ours are fairly mild. In saying that, she isn’t attempting to downplay the intense experiences people have firewalking in the West; there’s no doubt that the depth of healing, inspiration and life-altering change is truly remarkable among Westerners who’ve adopted the practice or even done it just once. She is simply pointing out that Western cultures don’t have a history of firewalking to look to the way some other cultures do. As a result we’re just beginning to explore firewalking and the gifts it can bring. We are just now starting to learn how fear can actually become our greatest friend, healer and teacher.